Do Formalist Judges Abide By Their Abstract Principles? A Two-Country Study in Adjudication

International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 35 (5):1903-1935 (2022)
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Recent literature in experimental philosophy has postulated the existence of the abstract/concrete paradox : the tendency to activate inconsistent intuitions depending on whether a problem to be analyzed is framed in abstract terms or is described as a concrete case. One recent study supports the thesis that this effect influences judicial decision-making, including decision-making by professional judges, in areas such as interpretation of constitutional principles and application of clear-cut rules. Here, following the existing literature in legal theory, we argue that the susceptibility to such an effect might depend on whether decision-makers operate in a legal system characterized by the formalist or particularist approach to legal interpretation, with formalist systems being less susceptible to the effect. To test this hypothesis, we compare the results of experimental studies on ACP run on samples from two countries differing in legal culture: Poland and Brazil. The lack of significant differences between those results suggests that ACP is a robust effect in the legal context.



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Bartosz Janik
Jagiellonian University
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Bringing moral responsibility down to earth.Adina L. Roskies & Shaun Nichols - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (7):371-388.

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